Land and Freedom
The news that the moral credibility of the Spanish government is not all that it might be must by now have reached the furthest corners of the inhabited world: from the permafrosted extremes of the Siberian taiga to the recently de-fanaticised streets of Timbuktu, most people are surely aware that King Juan Carlos's son-in-law is the probable mastermind behind a multi-million euro fraud involving one of the King's lovers. On top of which, the ex-treasurer of the party now in power, the Partido Popular, has been caught with his hands in a Swiss bank vault holding 22 million euros. Meanwhile the same government's Health Minister is being investigated for bribery and breach of trust, being as she possibly or even probably is, part of a complex network of corrupt politicians, all of them in that same Partido Popular. In short, used-car salesmen look like paragons of virtue in comparison with those holding the reigns of Spanish central power. This has not, however, prevented the latter from rearing up on their moral high horse when defending what they clearly see as the only cause left in which they can still claim to be impeccably in the right: the dear old unity of the Spanish state. To this end, they are taking the Catalan parliament's majority-voted Declaration of Sovereignty to court; they are launching a campaign to restore bullfighting in Catalonia in September; they are introducing a decree to enforce the presence of Spanish flags throughout Catalonia and are imposing a new education law which would relegate Catalan to third instead of first place in Catalan schools (after Spanish and English); at the same time, they are eliminating the handful of Catalan foreign delegations on the basis that they cost too much (though twenty new Spanish embassies have been opened in the last few years, several in countries with no Spanish residents). All this Catalan-molesting is costing the (Catalan) taxpayer a fortune - the flags alone would set us back 12 million euros - but expense is apparently no object when it comes to preserving the wholeness of the Kingdom of Spain against the wishes of some of its own subjects. This contradictory attitude, currently so in vogue among Spain's increasingly dodgy-looking leaders, is not dissimilar to that of a Spanish waiter in London who recently told a Catalan co-worker that if Catalonia became independent he would pick up a machine-gun and go and 'liberate' the area. Like the die-hard unionists in Madrid, however, he omitted to answer the question he himself had begged: from whom?
Matthew Tree, Catalonia Today, març de 2013